Australian Home Burglary and Security Statistics 2021: Incidents Dropped, but Don’t be Complacent

What was the positive effect on home burglary statistics in 2021? Read our report to find out and how to decrease the numbers further.
Published on January 14th, 2022
  Written by 
Thomas Perrotta
Thomas Perrotta is the managing editor of Savvy. Throughout his time at the company, Thomas has specialised in personal finance, namely car, personal and small loans, although he has also written on topics ranging from mortgages to business loans to banking and more. Thomas graduated from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Media, majoring in journalism, and has previously had his work published in The Advertiser.
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Bill Tsouvalas

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Bill Tsouvalas
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Australian Home Burglary and Security Statistics 2021

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No one likes to be broken into. Savvy has rounded up the Australian burglary and home security 2021 figures to keep you informed. What are the numbers of home burglaries, what security measures are we using and what can we do further to reduce the numbers?

  • In 2019-20, just over 4% of all Australian households experienced an actual or attempted break-in
  • The COVID-19 effect: Unlawful entry with intent 2020 figures dropped by 23%, lowest for 28 years
  • In 2020, the Northern Territory had the highest rate of home burglaries, New South Wales the lowest
  • Just under three-quarters of invasions are residential with 62% having property stolen

What do the statistics say?

For the 2019-20 financial year, just over 4% of all Australian households or around 423,900 properties were broken into or had an attempted break-in. Fortunately, 75% of these only experienced one incident and 73% an attempted one.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) creates an Index of Relative Socio-economic Advantage and Disadvantage (IRSAD) which profiles area21 in terms of the most advantaged to disadvantaged. Areas score high if there are higher incomes and skilled jobs (advantaged) to low with lower incomes and unskilled jobs (disadvantaged). Regrettably, those in the most disadvantaged group were 48% more likely to experience break-ins, and 29% more attempted break-ins than those in the most advantaged group.

Share/number of home break-ins across Australia for 2019-20

Households Break-ins Attempted break-ins

Break-ins by IRSAD across Australia for 2019-20

Burglary type Highest quintile Lowest quintile

As a percentage of the population, the Northern Territory had the highest rate of unlawful entry 1.5%. New South Wales had the lowest at 0.3%.

Number of victims of unlawful entry with intent as a proportion of state/territory populations in 2020

No Data Found

Australia wide in 2020, 71% of break-ins occurred at residential locations, and of these, 62% involved the stealing of property.

Region by region, Western Australia had the most residential break-ins with 76% of all entries. The Northern Territory recorded the lowest residential break-ins at 42%. 

On a positive note, during 2020, COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and more people working from home not only reduced the spread of the virus, but also decreased the number of victims of unlawful entry with intent (burglary, break-in and enter). ABS figures in 2020 dropped by 23% on the previous year (for Australia as a whole), and were the lowest rates of incidents recorded over the past 28 years.

These home invasion figures could remain low for some time too with more and more people working from home and less likely to return to the office. With someone constantly present in the household, intruders will obviously be less inclined to break-in.

Residential cases of unlawful entry with intent by state/territory for 2020

No Data Found

Decrease of unlawful entry with intent for state/territory from 2019-20

No Data Found

In 2019-20, only 74% of the most recent break-ins were reported to the police and only 40% of attempted ones. Shockingly, 11% of successful intrusions were not reported to police at all. For attempted break-ins, the reasons cited for not reporting were that 23% of victims believed that the incident was ‘too trivial or unimportant’ and 16% thought that there was ‘nothing that the police could do.’

Consequences of break-ins

The ABS reports that of the 238,100 successful household break-ins in 2019-20, mostly property was stolen, followed by property damage and most frightening of all, 12% had contact with the intruder.

Of these personal items (other than money) such as jewellery, clothes, handbags, purses and wallets remain the easiest targets for would-be burglars.

Characteristics of most recent incident in 2019-20

No Data Found

Types of property stolen during most recent incident in 2019-20

No Data Found

Do you worry about being a victim of crime?

A recent study by the University of Sydney questioned if 3000 Victorians worried about being a victim of crime. Generally, of 43% of respondents that worry about crime, 22% specifically worried about home burglaries. Overall, the 45-59 age group topped the list of those that worry the most about home invasion and generally women worry slightly more than men.

However, just over 80% of those who built social networks with their neighbours felt safer and around 70% of those who got advice from the police did so too.

Bill Tsouvalas, Managing Director of Savvy said:

‘A positive point to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic is that Australian home burglary figures have dropped. Although we believe they will never happen to us – it could be just a matter of time, so never be complacent.’

He continued:

‘Our livelihoods and houses are our most valuable assets, so we should do all we can to protect ourselves, homes and property. Most importantly, to reduce crime, we need to remain socially connected to our neighbours and communities - it’s good for us too!’

How are we securing our households?

Traditional non-electronic methods of securing a property remain high (locks, gates, security screens, etc.), yet in this day and age of technology, it is surprising that only 32% of households use home security cameras and 27% use alarm systems – even though both methods have inexpensive options available on the market.

Methods used to protect homes against theft in Australia from 2020-21

Method Percentage of respondents
Lock doors and windows
Gates or fences around property
Not leaving any spare key outside
Security screens on doors and windows
Leaving lights on
Dogs or other animals
Security camera
Security alarm system

How to reduce break-ins:

  • Report it: Even if it feels unimportant or that the police cannot do anything, it is vital if you are a victim of a home burglary to detail the incident to police as soon as possible. Of course, it is a personal choice, but reporting helps police to: solve crimes, catch perpetrators, recover the goods stolen and keep the neighbourhood and community safe.
  • Make tools look ugly: Their resell value is what thieves look for. To make them less attractive and harder to pass on online or to pawn shops, render them identifiable by removing brands and batteries, engraving your details and even spray painting them. Of course, keep them secure with locks and consider adding GPS trackers.
  • Everybody needs good neighbours: Getting to know them builds social bridges and makes our suburbs safer. When you are away from home and vice versa, keep an eye on each other’s property for suspicious activity. Also, join your local Neighbourhood Watch program.
  • Keep your home secure: With windows and doors locked, even when you are home (a metal/wooden dowel works or simple nail/pin work well). Install a home security camera and/or alarm, warning signs and/or sensor lights.  Change passcodes on coded locks too. Outside the house, your hidden key spot isn’t safe – lockboxes can work, but double-check if they are covered by your insurance.
  • Avoid showing off: Hide your expensive items from street view by using curtains. Keep your keys (yes, many cars get stolen from break-ins) and valuable items in an unassuming, safe place.
  • Invest in a home security system. The cost of wireless wifi connected cameras has come down significantly over recent years to the point where they make financial sense for many homeowners. For more sophisticated systems, you should be ready to shell out significant sums from your own pocket. An alternative is to draw from your mortgage offset account or alternatively take advantage of a personal loan.  
  • Be a keen gardener: A tidy garden will make it easier to observe any suspicious activity. Store any garden tools away too, as they make for easy home access.
  • Dogs aren’t just for Christmas: They are a commitment, but if one is right for you, they are fantastic at deterring would-be burglars. Of course, they are great company too.
  • When travelling away from home: Have a trusted person check on the property or house sit. Additionally, if you have the means, you can use smart home technology to monitor your house yourself. Be conscious of broadcasting your travel movements on social media – keep it private or delay it. Leave a light on too!

If the worst happens and you are a victim:

  • If you suspect an intruder: Stay calm and try to leave the property immediately. If not, remain quietly in a safe place. Call the police as soon as possible and take notes.
  • Immediately after a break-in, don’t touch anything and call the police. Verify how entry was gained and make the property secure. If anything was stolen, try diligently to create a list of items. You should then ring your insurer who will ask for the police report number and the list of stolen items to make a claim.

If in doubt, call:

  • Triple Zero (000) in an emergency or life-threatening situation
  • Police Assistance on 131 444 to report a crime that is not life-threatening
  • Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a report online if you have information about: a crime, criminal activity or any unsolved crime(s)

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Jan 2022, 'Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia, 2016'

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Jan 2022, 'Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2019-20 financial year', released 2021

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Jan 2022, 'Recorded Crime - Victims 2020', released 2021

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Jan 2022, 'National, state and territory population', Mar, Jun, Sep, Dec 2020, released 2020-21

Sydney University, Jan 2022, 'Social Cohesion and Pro-Social Responses to Perceptions of Crime: Victorian Report', released Feb 2020

Statista, Jan 2022, 'Home security in Australia - statistics & facts', released Sep 2021

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